Concepts of diversity and inclusion are evolving rapidly in North Carolina due to population shifts, changing demographics, politics and newly-identified needs. Conversations about diversity from 15, 10 or even 5 years ago may no longer apply to today’s realities.
Equal Opportunity Institute
NC State’s award-winning Equal Opportunity Institute, a year-long certificate program comprised of diversity and equity workshops, began in 2000 but responds to changing needs every year through the infusion of new course offerings that bring in the latest scholarship in the field.
The Institute is applicable to any person or organization seeking a broad range of diversity training that covers everything from equal employment opportunity fundamentals and the protected classes to new topics such as “What is Racial Justice?”, “Unconscious Bias” and “Sitting with Privilege.”
“Through these new workshops, we are working to introduce our campus to newer concepts in diversity to keep us on the cutting edge of understanding how issues of bias and social justice impact our community and our faculty, staff and students and to provide strategies for building more inclusive communities with this new understanding.”
The “What is Racial Justice?” workshop, taught by GLBT Center Director Renee Wells, explores the concept of racial justice from a historical perspective, examining the often parallel histories of Native Americans and African Americans in the United States. Tracing back through the arrival of Europeans in America that resulted in the devastation of people from these culture groups explains many of the disadvantages facing these groups today. With this knowledge as a foundation, workshop participants gain a deeper understanding of the causality between different groups’ abilities to thrive and succeed and the obstacles they face. The workshop also addresses how we can help work toward repairing past harm.
A workshop on “Unconscious Bias,” co-taught by Beverly Jones Williams and Sgt. Timothy Hammonds of NC State Police, defines and examines the concept of unconscious bias and enables workshop participants to learn their own biases through self-testing and case studies. We all exhibit some degree of unconscious bias that is caused by the human brain’s tendency to generalize and categorize that may stem from a primal instinct for survival. In the modern-day context, this type of involuntary thinking can lead to undesirable and even tragic outcomes. The workshop covers how to consciously consider and avoid biases.
“Sitting with Privilege,” also taught by Renee Wells, examines privilege from an intersectional perspective, delving into the myriad ways that an individual could be considered either privileged or marginalized based on their multiple identities, which include gender, gender identity, race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental disability status, body size, socioeconomic status and others. Having or not having privilege in differing combinations may affect how we treat others, how we are treated and whether or not we even consider if others may be less able to live freely than ourselves. Privilege affects our health, safety, financial security and overall well-being in ways that we may not even realize if we happen to belong to a dominant group. The workshop includes ways to avoid perpetuating the systematic oppression of others based on their identities.
If you missed these workshops, we anticipate that they will be offered again next year as electives in the Equal Opportunity Institute and as stand-alone workshops that can be taken by anyone. Most workshops are two or three hours in length and are offered at various times throughout the year.
The Equal Opportunity Institute application period begins each August. Individual workshops are offered throughout the academic year. To learn more about our workshop offerings, please see: